Friday, 11 December 2009

Howard Hawks, scene 4

His Girl Friday (1940) is storytelling at its most brilliant, and it is also such a feast of a dialogue that it is almost impossible to get it all in one go. As so often with Hawks, slightly subversive gender games are being played out, and it is full of in-jokes. Perhaps the most famous one is when Walter Burns, played by Cary Grant, says on the telephone, "The last person who said that to me was Archie Leach before he cut his throat." The joke is that Grant's real name was Archibald Leach. Grant also gets to say "Sounds more like a guy I ought to marry." at one point. This might actually be Grant's greatest performance, and hence, one of the greatest performances of all. And it is not only Grant, there is a lot of good acting in here. Rosalind Russell is simple marvelous.

It is also a cruel and angry film, which exposes the media and the politicians and their corruption and indifference. My favourite scene is the one in the press room, after the poor Mollie Malloy throws herself out of the window, and a silence sinks over the room, like a wet blanket of shame.

But I have not been able to find that scene, so below you will get another instead, which is also pretty damn good.

For those who want to read David Bordwell's take on His Girl Friday, look no further than this link.

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